Aerosmith was one of the most popular hard rock bands of the 1970s, setting the style and sound of American hard rock for the next two decades with their raunchy, bluesy swagger.
The Boston-based quintet found the middle ground between the menace of The Rolling Stones and the campy flamboyance of The New York Dolls, developing a lean, dirty, riff-oriented boogie that was loose and swinging and as hard as a diamond.
In the meantime, they developed a prototype for power ballads with their first single Dream On (1973), a piano ballad that was orchestrated with strings and distorted guitars.
Aerosmith’s ability to pull off both ballads and rock & roll made them extremely popular during the mid-70s when they had a string of gold and platinum albums.
Their third album, Toys In The Attic (1975) was their breakthrough album both commercially and artistically.
By the time it was recorded, the band’s sound had developed into a sleek, hard-driving hard rock, powered by simple, almost brutal blues-based riffs.
Many critics at the time labelled the band as punk rockers – Instead of adhering to the pretensions of Led Zeppelin or the gloomy mysticism of Black Sabbath, Aerosmith stripped heavy rock to its basic core.
Steve Tyler’s lyrics were filled with double entendres and clever jokes, and the entire band had a streetwise charisma that separated them from the heavy, lumbering arena rockers of the era.
The final single from Toys In The Attic, Walk This Way was released around the time of their new 1976 album, Rocks.
The album went platinum and peaked at number three. In 1978 the band appeared in the ill-fated movie Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band performing Come Together which became a #23 hit.
By the time the 1979 album Night In The Ruts appeared, Joe Perry had left the band to form The Joe Perry Project. He was shortly followed by Brad Whitford.
By the early 80s, the group’s audience had declined as the band fell prey to drug and alcohol abuse, with Tyler collapsing onstage during their 1984 “Back In The Saddle” tour. However, their career was far from over.
In the late 80s, Aerosmith pulled off one of the most remarkable comebacks in rock history. In 1986, Tyler and Perry (fresh from a rehabilitation program) appeared on the Run DMC version of Walk This Way and appeared in the video. The clip received saturation airplay on MTV and reached #4 on the national charts.
A full-scale comeback album followed (Permanent Vacation) in 1987, featuring the original Aerosmith line-up. The album resulted in the hits Rag Doll, Angel and Dude (Looks Like A Lady). The album reached #11 and sold over three million copies.
Pump, released in 1989, reached #5, sold over four million copies, and spawned the Top Ten singles Love In An Elevator and Janie’s Got A Gun. The band continued to record and tour into the 90s and released a number of albums that equalled, if not surpassed, the popularity of their 70s albums.